TDSAT directs Bharti to pay 25% of 50 cr penalty

TDSAT directs Bharti to pay 25% of 50 cr penalty

New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Friday directed Bharti Airtel to deposit 25% of 50 crore fine imposed by DoT for camouflaging the calling-line identification (CLI) and said that “prima facie" the company has violated the licence conditions.

The sectoral tribunal further noted that Bharti Airtel should not have handed over the incorrect call data records and given misinformation to the Telecom Enforcement Resources & Monitoring Cell (TERM).

“Keeping in view the fact that an allegation of violation of conditions of licence of such nature had been made, the petitioner not only should have handed over the correct CDR but should not also have given wrong information to the respondent that the Mediation Server is located at Noida," the tribunal said.

Moreover, it said when TERM had called a meeting with Bharti Airtel, the company officers did not attend it. They did not even give an advance intimation about their non- participation in the meeting, the tribunal added.

“It was necessary keeping in view the request made by the respondent to attend the said meeting with the petitioner’s COO/CEO and technical team," TDSAT said.

The department of telecom (DoT) had slapped a penalty of 50 crore on Bharti Airtel for allegedly camouflaging its CLI mechanism in Madhya Pradesh circle for making business promotion calls to non-Airtel mobile customers. The company had challenged the fine in the tribunal.

TDSAT also rejected the claims of the Bharti Airtel that it was not given a chance to present its views and no show cause notice was issued by DoT.

“The petitioner, as would appear from the TERM letter dated 21 January, 2011 and the consequent cause shown by the petitioner by its letter dated 27 January, 2011, was also granted an opportunity of being heard and making a presentation," observed TDSAT.

“We are furthermore of the opinion that the Airtel has been given an opportunity to explain its case," it further observed.

The tribunal, however, also said DoT also failed to justify why a maximum penalty of 50 crore was imposed on the telecom operator for making business promotion calls to non-Airtel mobile customers.

“There is nothing on record to show as to why the maximum amount of penalty of 50 crores has been imposed, and furthermore having regard to the nature of defence raised by the petitioners that the violation occurred owing to a technical error, are of the opinion that interest of justice would be sub-served, if the petitioner is directed to deposit 25% of the said amount, namely, a sum of 12.50 crores," the tribunal said.